Professor Kofi Amegah, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) says the government must invest in air quality monitors to detect and regulate air pollution.
That, he said, would enable accurate data generation on the impacts and health implications of air pollution in the country.
“In Africa we are bereft of data, because we do not have ground monitors to monitor air quality, once you know the level of air pollution, you will know if the population is breathing quality or hazardous air,” he said.
Speaking at a workshop for environmental health officers in Accra on the health effects of air pollution, Professor Amegah stated that about 10 monitors were required in Accra alone to track the air pollution levels.
He said the meeting was to increase national capacity for air quality monitoring, management, and surveillance for diseases linked to air pollution.
It was organised by the Clean Air Fund as part of the Breath Accra Project.
The meeting brought together actors in the health sector to discuss air pollution related diseases, the risk factors of air pollution and identify strategies for promoting stronger action gainst air pollution while also protecting public health.
Professor Amegah noted that there was a significant lack of data on air pollution in the country.
To fill that gap, the Breath Accra Project aims to make hyperlocal air quality data in the Greater Accra Metropolis publicly available.
He encouraged the public to eat well and stop burning garbage in their homes and street hawkers to wear nose masks to protect themselves from polluted air.
Dr Pier Nudu, a Professor from the Environment and Health Center, World Health Organization (WHO) called for the formation of a network of air monitors to help improve the availability of health data.
Air pollution occurs when harmful particles, such as harmful gases, dust and smoke invade the atmosphere and modify the air’s natural characteristics to make it toxic and dangerous to all living creatures.
Good air quality means that the air is clean and safe to breathe, with low levels of pollution, poor air quality will contain excessive amounts of pollutants, which are often dangerous and potentially fatal to all living creatures.
Air quality can be measured by the levels of pollution present in both outdoor and indoor air through sensors and other monitoring systems that detect specific pollutants in the atmosphere.
Sources of air pollution in Accra are vehicular emissions, continual importation of over- aged vehicles, polluting fleet of minibuses, cooking with charcoal and wood and burning of waste.